News 04.27.07

North Carolina House committee approves eyewitness ID reform bill

Eyewitness misidentification has been involved in more than 75 percent of the 200 convictions later overturned by DNA evidence, and a bill pending in North Carolina's House of Representatives would lead to reforms statewide that would help prevent misidentifications from happening. The bill was approved Tuesday by a House committee and will now go to the full House. Among reforms included in the bill are blind administration – where the lineup administrator does not know which participant is the suspect – and sequential photo lineups – where photos are shown one at a time rather than all at once. Studies have shown that viewing photos all at once leads witnesses to choose the person who looks the most like the perpetrator but may not be the perpetrator.

"Some people's memories are different than others," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, one of the primary sponsors of the bill… "When people remember what other people look like, they don't remember it the same."


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Eyewitness identification reforms were recommended in 2003 by North Carolina's innocence commission, a body formed to study the causes of wrongful convictions and implement policies proven to fix the system's flaws. North Carolina is

one of six states

with such commissions, though others are pending nationwide. The Innocence Project is advocating for the formation of these commissions nationwide as part of our month-long

"200 Exonerated" campaign

– launched this week to mark the milestone of the 200th DNA exoneration in the U.S. 


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